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Decker School grant goal: get nurse practicioners into job market faster

By Journal Staff


VESTAL — Getting nurse practitioners trained and off to work is the main intent of a $757,000, two-year grant that Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing received from the Health Resources and Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Simply put, the grant money will enable students to graduate faster by covering their tuition and providing a stipend so that students can go to school full time, says Joyce A. Ferrario, dean of the Decker School of Nursing. Often, she says, students can only go to school part time because they must maintain a full-time job to support themselves and their families. The grant will help eliminate that scenario for 15 full-time students at the school, and provide some financial assistance for eight part-time students as well, she says.

The two-year program is already at capacity with about 160 students, Ferrario says. The school almost can’t churn out graduates fast enough to meet the demand for primary-care providers across the Southern Tier region.

A nurse practitioner receives graduate-level training and is licensed to treat both physical and mental conditions, Ferrario says. Nurse practitioners can provide physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose certain diseases and provide treatment, and prescribe medication. They fill an important role in the medical community, bridging the gap between the demand for primary care and the low number of primary-care physicians, Ferrario says.

That’s why the grant is so important, she says. It will enable students to focus on their schooling without having to work, which means they can get through the program faster as full-time students and join the work force sooner. Currently, the program graduates between 30 and 35 students a year, she says, but she expects that number to increase with this grant assistance.

Jo Ann Ernst is one of the Decker students who will benefit from the grant funding. A working nurse, Ernst says she returned to school after a number of years working at a local hospital. The grant enables her to focus on her students without financial burden, she said in a release.

“I’m not worried that I really should be working, and now I can start my day and hit the books,” she said. “My first two years, I was a part-time student and also working, and I found that very difficult. Now I am a full-time student and this grant helps me not spread myself too thin.”

The Decker School has received grant funding to assist students in the past, Ferrario says, but this award is the largest the school has ever received. Typically, the grants were in the $40,000 to $50,000 range.

“It is a huge amount of money compared with what we usually get,” Ferrario says. The school received “every penny” it asked for in its grant application, she adds.

The Decker School of Nursing offers undergraduate nursing programs and several graduate programs including a master’s of science, a doctorate in nursing practice, and a Ph.D. in nursing as well as graduate certificates.


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